Bad year…?

Everyone has already said everything that was to be said about 2020. Bleak, frustrating, depressing, scary. My favourite You Tube channels posted less frequently and, let’s face it, the content wasn’t all that exciting because the main activity that fuels these channels – travel – was either not permitted or was heavily restricted. Landscape photographers were limited to their locals areas; some made the most of it, some ended up getting kicked out of The Lakes while staying in their own campervans. 2020 was a rollercoaster of lockdowns and tiers, carrots and sticks. We were allowed to exercise outdoors, but stopped from going anywhere nice and green in case it was in Wales. We were encouraged to Eat Out to Help Out, only to be told to stay at home a couple of months later. Do your Christmas shopping, they said, but don’t go and visit anyone over Christmas. Send your kids to school, or you won’t be able to go to work yourself. Shops closed, opened, closed again. High Street with more and more empty retail units. Buy it online then, but not from Amazon, they’re bad guys…

I introduced some much needed changes to my home last year. My small flat used to be a rental property, with an owner living some 100 miles away. It was neglected but livable, I thought, unaware of invisible leaks caused by someone’s very poor DIY skills (the owner or whoever he hired messed up the pipes in the bathroom, did a bad job installing a washing machine and did not bother to service the immersion water heater for donkey’s years). I took care of some of it, most importantly I had a full bathroom makeover during which we discovered untold horrors hiding behind ugly tiles and under the floor. I am so glad this part of my home is now quite literally healed, not unlike a tooth after a root canal treatment:

When I first came for a viewing, I was welcomed by a sorry sight: there wasn’t even a shoe rack, or a single hanger in the hallway. These things cost a couple of quid at B&M. Was it really so difficult for the owner to provide them ?

There was this little table opposite, not too awful but not very useful either. My slightly battered Kallax unit does a much better job:

The living room wasn’t too inviting either…Chunky faux leather chairs, a TV in a corner…and not much else. Fast forward 1.5 year and here is my command and control centre, with which I am very pleased! Since I got rid of the TV license, I no longer had to keep my TV near the aerial cable. I wanted this part of the room to have a bit of a forest feel, and to remind me of better times when we weren’t told to steer clear of the mountains because locking ourselves in a shared house with 6 other people is surely safer:

Kallax proved very handy for storing large hardbacks and for displaying all these cute candles 🙂 I am also very happy with this canvas art from B&Q. I bought it in store when B&Q re-opened back in June (?), and it looked so much better in real life then another canvas I nearly ordered online:

Where my sofa used to be, there is a mini entertainment hub 😉 My modest collection of vinyls, CDs and DVDs. One day I will get a good pair of floor speakers and an amp, but in the meantime Wharfedale Bluetooth speakers are doing a fairly decent job. My TV is nothing but a screen to watch You Tube and Netflix on. I don’t watch any television, I don’t have Sky either. I added a couple of IKEA display shelves only yesterday 🙂

B&Q bamboo patterned self adhesive film saves me looking at a drab view from my window. I love teal/mustard colour combo, very Van Gogh 🙂

Then, there was a ‘master’ (meaning small but not extremely small) bedroom, with an unacceptable dark red wall, a bed too large, and a fitted wardrobe that took a third of the precious space. Nothing else would fit in there, and walking around bed was nearly impossible. Below, a pic from the estate agent:

First thing I did was to attack this dreadful wall. Without even watching a single You Tube tutorial, or asking anyone’s advice, I rushed to B&Q to get a silver-grey wallpaper. It’s a far from perfect job but it covered the red monstrosity. Then I had to tackle the oversized wardrobe. I wondered why there was only one electric socket in the bedroom. Well, the other two were hidden behind the wardrobe of course!

My small double bed replaced the above piece of furniture. I love the canvas from The Range, it goes so well with yellow and grey hues. Opposite, a new ‘statement’ wall with a desk and a chest of drawers looks so much nicer than a curry house red:

I don’t have a ton of clothes, so two smaller open wardrobes are sufficient, plus one doubles as a display area, or a Klimt altar 😉

The other bedroom where I slept initially to escape red nightmares is a potential Airbnb, for a small guest since the bed is rather tiny. It’s more likely though that in the nearest future it will become my home office:

So, that’s it. A story of 2020 makeovers, agains all odds, from shortages of building materials caused by 3 months lockdown, to trade people being extremely busy. I am glad I bought all I needed when UK was still in the EU, without any delays caused by border checks and what not. As much as would love to buy everything from local joiners – carpenters, made with real wood, I can’t afford it and I have a sneaking suspicion I am not alone… Everything here is inexpensive and from IKEA, Argos, Dunelm, B&Q, The Range, B&M, Wayfair and so on, which really makes me wonder: why was this flat so poorly equipped and miserable, when it could have been turned into a much more attractive place at a relatively low cost? The owner struggled to sell it and looking at ‘before’ pictures, no wonder.

There is still so much to do. Ugly brown carpets need to be replaced with floor panels. Doors will be either painted or exchanged, including the handles. Kitchen, all 3.9 square metres of it, and very 1989, desperately needs revamping. Storage heaters will all but one be disposed of. So, it’s a work in progress but despite time, cost and effort involved, it’s truly worth it. If 2021 is another ‘stay at home’ year, at least I have a lovely home to stay in.